4 Ways To Retain More Guests (Without Loyalty Programs)

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Posted on Oct 4th 2016

Large chain hotels have been using carefully designed loyalty programs for decades, and the OTAs have followed suit with their own discounts and promos designed to retain more guests. Yet, for small hotels and resorts with just one location, such schemes are more difficult to pull off successively.

So how can you compete for your guests’ loyalty? Staying committed to fantastic, customer-focused service is of course the foundation of any business’s retention strategy. Mess this up and no amount of expert marketing and reengagement tactics will bring your guests back. With first rate customer service in place, these 4 tactics will help keep your guests engaged and coming back for more.

Amp Up Your Drive For TripAdvisor Reviews

It goes without saying that acquisition and retention are intrinsically linked. And one of the best ways to get word out about your hotel online and acquire new guests is to turn up your drive for new reviews on TripAdvisor.

Proactively encourage reviews throughout your social and email campaigns, and consider placing Ipads in guestrooms to drive real-time reviews. That way, you’ll be able to do some immediate service recovery if required.

The great thing about TripAdvisor is that they have a pretty solid social media strategy, so new reviews are likely to reach your guests’ family and friends in their wider network. Guests that leave a review will also be reminded of the great time they had at your hotel each time someone finds their feedback ‘helpful.’

Once you’re drumming up plenty of positive cyber attention, you should find that your booking rates start slowly creeping up, with the added benefit that OTAs are willing to settle for lower commissions for properties with higher conversion rates.

Incentivise Loyalty With Promos and Offers

Online Travel Agencies are able to offer the lowest prices, but that’s not always enough to inspire loyalty. Customers are price-savvy, but they also have a general propensity to favour actual service providers over aggregator sites (Quantas over Travelocity, for example).

Providing a meaningful offer for your guests’ next stay with you, as well as discounts for family and friend referrals works well. Make sure the offer has a long enough validity to allow guests to take advantage of it and always issue them electronically – paper vouchers have a tendency to get lost.

Get Serious About Social

You’ve heard it a thousand times, but building a strong social presence and community really is essential when it comes to retaining guests, as well as attracting new ones. Your monthly email newsletter is great, but people want to know what is happening today – they want your best offers, and they want them now. Social media presents by far the best way to provide this real time communication.

Remember that although ‘likes’ are an important metric, what you should really be aiming for is a thriving community based on interaction and conversation. You can go a long way to achieving this with regular contests, videos, eye catching images and user-generated content drives.

Consider Dropping Your Loyalty Program

Has your hotel been running a loyalty program for awhile? If so, it may be time to run an audit to see how much it’s actually achieving for you. Pay particular attention to the redemption rate metrics. If they’re low and your guests’ reaction to your promotions and emails is generally a bit half hearted, it’s probably time to quietly put the program to bed and focus your time and efforts elsewhere.

How does your hotel manage guest retention? Let us know in the comments below!

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